The International Criminal Court
By Netsanet Belay, Africa Director, Research and Advocacy at Amnesty International. Follow Netsanet on Twitter @NetsanetDBelay
As the International Criminal Court (ICC) opens its Assembly of States Parties – the periodic gathering of all the countries who have ratified the Court’s statute – in The Hague today, it does so with a bloody nose.
The Court was yet again met with contempt this month by South Africa’s failure to cooperate with its arrest warrants for one of its longest running fugitives, President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan.
On 15 June, South Africa’s government failed to obey an order from its own high court to prevent al-Bashir from leaving the country. The order had been made while the court decided whether to compel the government to fulfil its international and constitutional obligations to uphold two ICC warrants for the arrest of Sudanese President al-Bashir. The Sudanese leader, who was visiting Johannesburg for an African Union Summit, faces seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as three counts of genocide in Darfur.
Posted at 0001 GMT 28 January 2015
Targeted UN sanctions and accountability, including through the International Criminal Court (ICC), are urgently needed to end rampant abductions, torture, summary killings and other abuses by rival forces in Libya, some of which amount to war crimes, according to a new briefing published by Amnesty International today.
Benghazi's descent into chaos: abductions, summary killings and other abuses sheds light on a series of gruesome abuses carried out by fighters from both the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries (SCBR), a coalition of Islamist militias and armed groups, and forces loyal to General Khalifa Haftar’s Operation Dignity campaign, since May 2014.
“Over the past few months as tit for tat attacks by rival forces in the city continue to escalate, Benghazi has steadily descended into chaos and misrule. The city has been ripped apart by spiraling violence waged by rival groups and their supporters seeking vengeance,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.
Russia and China have displayed a chilling disregard for countless victims of serious human rights abuses in Syria by vetoing a UN Security Council resolution today to refer the situation to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), said Amnesty International.
“The vetoes by Russia and China are a callous political move that betrays suffering people in Syria. The resolution would have allowed the ICC to step in to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all sides to the conflict and sent an important message that these horrific crimes cannot be committed with impunity,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.
The Libyan authorities must immediately surrender Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face trial on charges of crimes against humanity, Amnesty International said, following the Court’s decision to proceed with his prosecution.
A majority of the ICC Appeals Chamber today rejected all four grounds of appeal brought by the Libyan government and upheld an earlier decision of the Pre Trial Chamber that Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi should be tried by the ICC. The reasons for the refusal include the government’s failure to demonstrate that he was facing substantially the same case nationally as he would face at the ICC.
“The ICC Appeals Chamber’s decision marks a crucial step towards delivering justice to the victims of crimes against humanity during the Libyan uprising in 2011 and the ensuing armed conflict. The Libyan authorities must now immediately surrender Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi to the ICC so his trial can finally get under way,” said Solomon Sacco, Senior Legal Adviser at Amnesty International.
Amnesty International has called on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and surrender him to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The ICC has issued arrest warrants for President Bashir for his alleged involvement in war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur.
"The Democratic Republic of Congo should not shield President Omar al-Bashir from international justice," said Muthoni Wanyeki, Regional Director for East Africa at Amnesty International.
“His visit to the country is an opportunity to enforce the arrest warrants and send a message that justice must prevail."
If the DRC does not arrest President Bashir, it will violate its obligations under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
President Omar al-Bashir flew to Kinshasa this evening to take part in a meeting of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
Posted at 0001 GMT 17 January 2014
Authorities in Côte d’Ivoire must transfer former militia leader Charles Blé Goudé, who is accused of crimes against humanity, to a legally recognized place of detention where his relatives and lawyers can visit him, Amnesty International said.
Charles Blé Goudé, a supporter of former president Laurent Gbagbo, has been detained unlawfully by the Ivorian Ministry of Interior for the past year on charges relating to the 2010-11 post election violence.
“Preventing Charles Blé Goudé from seeing his lawyers will not serve justice for the victims of the crimes he is accused of,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, West Africa researcher at Amnesty International.
“Instead, authorities must ensure any judicial process against him is transparent and fair so victims and their relatives can obtain the justice they are entitled to.”
World leaders must reject requests by the African Union to weaken the principle that no-one, regardless of their status, has immunity from prosecution for crimes under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, said Amnesty International.
The session is expected to be dominated by the African Union’s calls to suspend the ICC’s trials of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto in view of their official status as President and Deputy President of Kenya respectively.
Both men are accused of committing crimes against humanity during the post-election violence of 2007-8 that left over 1,000 dead and 600,000 displaced.
Representatives of 122 countries which have joined the International Criminal Court will be asked to endorse changes to the Court’s rule that accused persons must attend trial and could discuss possible retrograde amendments to the Rome Statute at the 12 th Assembly of State Parties at The Hague on 20-28 November.
African states must reject calls to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, says Amnesty International.
The African Union (AU) is due to hold an extraordinary summit in Addis Ababa on 11 and 12 October. It is understood that a proposal will be tabled for the en bloc withdrawal of African countries from the Rome Statute of the ICC.
Some AU members are concerned that the ICC is unfairly targeting African countries.
“A resolution calling on African states to withdraw en bloc from the Rome Statute would be reactionary in the extreme,” says Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of Law and Policy.
“Such a resolution would serve no purpose except to shield from justice, and to give succour to, people suspected of committing some of the worst crimes known to humanity.”
“The ICC should expand its work outside Africa, but it does not mean that its eight current investigations in African countries are without basis. The victims of these crimes deserve justice.”
Member states of the United Nations General Assembly must demand that Sudan’s President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir surrender to the International Criminal Court (ICC), where he faces charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, said Amnesty International.
President al-Bashir has reportedly applied to the United States Embassy in Sudan for a visa to enable him to travel to the 68th session of the UN General Assembly in New York before its general debate opens on 24 September.
The ICC has issued two arrest warrants against President al-Bashir accusing him of responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide committed by Sudanese forces and their allied Janjaweed militia in Darfur, Sudan.
“Despite the ICC arrest warrants against the President, two other government officials and an alleged Janjaweed militia leader, they are all being protected by the Sudanese government which is refusing to cooperate with the Court,” said Tawanda Hondora, Deputy Director of Law and Policy at Amnesty International.
The Libyan authorities should immediately hand Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi and former intelligence chief Abdallah al-Senussi to the International Criminal Court (ICC) said Amnesty International.
The organization met both detainees last week ahead of the referral of their case to the Indictment Chamber in Tripoli on 19 September. Al-Gaddafi and al-Senussi are wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity but the Libyan authorities are insisting that they stand trial in Libya.
Their case has been referred to the Indictment Chamber along with those of 36 others accused of crimes related to the armed conflict.
“The referral of these cases to the Indictment Chamber brings us one step closer to the start of national trial proceedings for Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, in violation of Libya’s legal obligation to surrender him to the ICC,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahrahoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
In November 2012, at least 100 Palestinian civilians and four Israeli civilians were killed after the Israeli army launched Operation “Pillar of Defence”. During the conflict that followed, unlawful attacks were carried out by both sides. Israeli forces hit over 1,500 targets throughout the Gaza Strip. Palestinian armed groups fired over 1,500 indiscriminate rockets at Israel. Three years earlier, hundreds of Palestinian civilians and three Israeli civilians were killed in the context of Operation “Cast Lead”. Neither side has taken adequate steps to ensure that anyone was held accountable for crimes under international law. Unless they do, civilians will continue to be caught in the cross-fire and pay with their lives.
The Kenyan authorities must cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to ensure justice is done for the victims of the 2007-8 post-election violence, Amnesty International said today ahead of the opening in The Hague of the trial of Deputy President William Ruto and broadcaster Joshua arap Sang.
“The start of the ICC trial is an important opportunity to end impunity for the serious crimes committed in 2007/2008. Kenya must cooperate fully with the ICC and support its work to ensure a fair and effective process for the defendants, victims and witnesses, and for the Kenyan people,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa programme director.
“Six years after post-election violence rocked the country, it is high time to prioritize the pursuit of justice for the hundreds and thousands of people who lost their lives or homes.”
Following the Kenyan parliament’s vote to withdraw from the International Criminal Court today, Amnesty International said:
“Today’s vote is a disturbing attempt to deny justice to the hundreds of thousands of people who were driven from their homes or killed in the post election violence in 2007-8,” said Netsanet Belay, Africa Director at Amnesty International.
“It is unacceptable to try and protect those facing prosecution for alleged crimes against humanity and allow them to evade justice. This also sets a dangerous precedent for the future of justice in Africa.”
The Kenyan parliament’s vote came days before Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto was due to stand trial in The Hague accused of crimes against humanity after post-election violence rocked the country in 2007-8.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta also faces serious charges; his trial is due to start on November 12.
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